Posted by & filed under Bondi View, City News.


Last Wednesday night, locals and journalists gathered at Bondi Pavilion for Fraudulent Facts, Hoax Headlines and Malicious Media, a panel discussion presented by the Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award and The Walkley Foundation. The panel consisted of several high-profile media figures – Sandra Sully (Channel Ten), Alex McKinnon (The Saturday Paper), and John Barron (ABC), led by Jan Fran, from SBS’s The Feed.

The discussion was focused around the concept of ‘fake news’, a term coined by US President Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign. As Alex McKinnon noted, President Trump tends to define the term as “news he doesn’t like”, a definition that apparently includes CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

But despite the President’s claims that fake news is “one of the greatest of all terms” he’s ever invented, history says otherwise. The first ever mention of fake news in a headline appears in 1890, around 56 years before the President was born. Another early example is The Great Moon Hoax in 1835, a series of six articles published in New York newspaper The Sun, supposedly detailing the discovery of life on the moon, presented as a legitimate scientific discovery.

In a twenty-first century context, the term is more commonly used to describe news that is deliberately designed to misinform or mislead the public about a particular individual or organisation, often. The growth of social media means these stories can be seen and read by millions of people before they can be debunked.
Sandra Sully observed that “it’s no surprise that [Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg came out and finally admitted to Facebook playing a role in Trump’s election,” referring to the many stories about Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton containing sensationalist headlines and unverifiable sources, giving then-Republican candidate Trump a clear campaign advantage.

The panel discussed some of the factors that led to the public acceptance of these stories as fact. John Barron, political analyst for ABC’s US Politics division, says people are more likely to believe fake news when they’re “disillusioned with the government and with the media.”

He said that once the public have lost their trust in these so-called authoritative voices, they “look for curators of news that they can trust”, which can come in the form of bloggers, opinion columnists, or social media ‘influencers’- people outside of the mainstream media expressing their opinions to audiences who choose to take them as fact, which he considers to be the mental equivalent of “getting pre-made meals from Woolworth’s.”

The panel also considered the role of the consumer, and whether or not the public have a responsibility to think more critically about the news. Sandra Sully thinks consumers need to be “educated and a little bit savvy” to be able to tell fake news from real news.
“People need to consider who they’re reading and why they’re reading it.” she said.

Whilst there was debate amongst the panel about how much responsibility lay with the consumer as opposed to with the media outlets themselves, they all agreed that taking in as many perspectives as possible was essential to getting to the truth of any major story, even when those points of views conflicted drastically with their own. As Ms. Sully herself said, “isn’t the fact that we’re different what makes the world juicy?”

  • Petra Liverani

    So, I wonder, was the verity of the Las Vegas shooting questioned in the evening. The sloppiest of sloppy false-flag hoaxes. I mean, how could they TELL you more clearly, THIS EVENT IS COMPLETE BULLSHIT. Anyone who believes that this guy was shot in the head with a bullet is a complete and utter gullible swallower of lies from the power elite (via the media).

    Anyone who looks at the images of the Mogadishu Truck Bombing and is familiar with photos of a bombing where people really were killed and injured will recognise instantly that these people have been nowhere near a bomb blast. How about the ludicrous bandaging of the guy with the pigmentation issues: we’re supposed to believe he’s suffered burns because of the pink colour of his skin but obviously if the pink skin really were burned it would be covered in bandaging. Not to mention the general sloppiness of the bandaging.

    Three years ago, randomly and unsuspectingly I clicked a link on FB to the film, JFK to 9/11 Everything is a Rich Man’s Trick,, which woke me up to the Emperor’s New Clothes / Hitlerian Lie world we live in.

    Getting very, very tired of arguing with my friends and others about these events gravitated me towards the magical, ancient tool of Occam’s Razor (14th century monk, William of Occam, did not devise the tool, he was just a great proponent of it). I have a website on “Terror” events which are analysed using this tool and I’ve offered $5,000 to the first person who can produce a 10-point Occam’s Razor exercise favouring the “official story” hypothesis over the “independent researcher” hypothesis for any one of three specified events. No one has even attempted to claim the prize.

    We are being swamped in staged terror. You need to wake up before it’s too late!

  • Petra Liverani

    One simple way to check for fake news is simply to compare what the media tell us with what they show us. For example, the media tell us that at least 358 people were killed in the Mogadishu truck bombing, however, the images we see from this event do not support what we are told. If the bombs had killed so many people, we can only infer that they would have also compromised the bodies of those who were injured but we see no evidence of that and the bandaging we are shown is not convincing.